Category Archives: James in his Jeep Getting Java

James in His Jeep Getting Java–Kokanee Creek

Crow’s Nest Highway was a spectacular drive, with these statues on the side of the road (there were many, I stopped to photograph two of them). While they made the drive interesting, it bothered me that they seemed to be for entrances to private high-end homes for the uber wealthy. They kind of said, “You can’t afford here. Move on.”

IMG_1367

 

IMG_1371

While researching where I was going to camp, my original plan was to drive to Drumheller. When I saw Kokanee Creek online, it looked so beautiful that I decided to spend a few days there instead. Glad I did.

IMG_1206

I was a short walk to the lake and in a spot where I couldn’t see my neighbours. I could hear them though, as the kids playing in the campsite were screaming at the top of their lungs (one repeated the same Queen’s lyrics “We are the champions” over and over). They even rode their bikes into the washrooms, spreading wet mud everywhere. Thankfully, they were only there for the weekend and I was there for a few days into the week.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I did have one thunderstorm while I was there, and branches from above broke and fell on my tent. The poles snapped in two, but the tent held up enough to get me through the night and early morning. The day turned out sunny (plus 30), with intermittent sun showers. I bought another tent, and carried on the rest of my trip making a mental note to invest in a much, much better tent..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was my view each morning when I woke up. I’d make a cup of coffee, walk to the lake, and sit and stare at the water.

IMG_1175

 

Instead of an inspirational song, I’ve added a video that I took while sitting on the beach. Enjoy!

James in His Jeep Getting Java – The Camping Edition

IMG_1130

Maybe it’s all the apocalypse writing and reading I’ve been doing over the last few years, but I got back into camping this summer. This trip I took west instead of south, and I stayed in Canada to visit a few places I’d never been.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My goal was to drive from Vancouver to Kokanee Creek Provincial Park. I booked campsites in Manning Park, Kokanee Creek, and Stemwinder Provincial Park. I drove the Crow’s Nest Highway (Hwy 3) from Hope to Nelson and stopped in a few really great towns.

What I didn’t know when I began was the necessity of booking your campsite ahead of time. Unlike when I was a kid, one cannot simply go into a campsite and expect a great spot. (Get the reference there?) I booked mine the week ahead, but because I was travelling on odd days (I began on a Friday and ended on a Friday) I was able to secure some sweet spots. If you haven’t used Discover Camping yet, it is a really simple service that lets you see photos of your spot. Unlike dating sites, these photos accurately represent what you’ll find when meeting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I originally wanted to spend Friday to Sunday in Manning Park, but by the time I went to book the only spots for that time frame were in overflow near the highway. Instead, I changed my dates to just Friday to Saturday, which opened up a spot in the Lightning Lake Large Loop section which was pretty sweet. A close walk to the lake, and a pretty private (and quiet) camping area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was also early enough in the season that there were no fire bans. You do have to remember to bring cash for firewood, as it is illegal to transport out of park wood into your site.

The night I spent in Manning was actually pretty terrible. (No fault to the site at all.) Being summer, I was prepared for summer heat and not for the quickly changing temperatures of the mountains. It got cold that night–no idea how cold, but my tent, sleeping bag, and the sweater/pants/pyjamas I wore were not enough to stave off the cold. To say it was rough is to understate just how cold I got. I’m from Winnipeg–I’ve dealt with -40 and colder.

After Manning, I drove Crow’s Nest to Princeton, BC, a little town of about 3,000 people. It had an old feel to it and very friendly people. I discovered a very tasty cafe, the Cowboy Coffee. Had french toast and coffee there–highly recommend.

IMG_1142

While in Princeton, I knew I’d need a better sleeping bag if I wanted to survive another night. I found the outdoor store, Princeton Outdoor Supply, who was very helpful and had a sleeping bag that should do the trick. He suggested that I take the one I have and put it inside the new one, and sleep with the two if I got cold. It was a great idea, actually, and gave me the leeway to have a cooler night if needed.

IMG_1141

Plus, I saw this deer. Didn’t seem to mind me or the traffic at all.

IMG_1152

While on my trip, I listened to a local singer/songwriter Land of Deborah. Give her a listen–she’s great road trip tunes!

James in his Jeep Getting Java – The Penny, Mission

I have a favourite coffee place in Mission, BC. The Penny is an amazing cafe that gives back to its community by supporting an outreach program that offers comfort, relationships, support and food to those in need. (In their words from their site.)

20171202_104751

Walking inside, it seems like any other cafe. Friendly staff, neighbours who greet one another, and plenty of comfy places to sit.

20171202_105538

But there’s something very special about supporting a neighbourhood space that is using its profits to better the situations of those in need.

20171202_105412

This last Christmas while there, a neighbourhood Santa stopped in to greet everyone and offer candy canes. He’s been doing this for 33 years!

20171217_123143

Everyone in the cafe was thrilled.

IMG_0003

I definitely recommend this place if you are ever in Mission. The coffee is great, and they very often have gluten-free treats!

For a theme song, I thought this fit well.

James in His Jeep Getting Java – Finn Slough

In 2016, I became fascinated by a place in Washington near La Conner called “Fish Town.” This was an area just south of La Conner where, in the 70s, a group of artists rented fishing shacks along the slough where they settled an unofficial town. As the tale goes, these artists wanted to shun modern day convenience for their art and used the slough as a way to get into town for supplies. Years later, the owner of the fishing shacks would sell the land to developers who would clear cut the area and destroy the town.

(You can learn more about Fish Town from this documentary.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One day while having lunch in La Conner, I decided that I was going to find Fish Town! Not only does it appear on Google Maps, but it also appeared on my GPS. So I set the coordinates and started to drive. What I discovered was disheartening–an area of land with new homes and no remnants of the rich history of what should have been a historic place.

This is why it worries me that the Fraser Valley Port Authority might one day push the residents of our very own Fish Town off land they’ve been living on for three generations. (Follow link to the bottom of the page.) In Richmond, British Columbia there’s a place called Finn Slough, a “town” of about thirty living in shacks that were built in the late 1800s. (Some have been restored with modern conveniences.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
At the south end of Dyke Road is an off-leash park (watch for coyotes!) that overlooks the Fraser River, Mount Baker, and farmland. A fifteen minute walk will bring you to Diplomat Bakery where you can refuel on coffee and treats.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From the river bank you can walk the shore and see the historic buildings and imagine what it was once like for the original Finnish settlers who built their homes either floating or on wooden stilts. There are still three original Finn families living here, and I often wonder what a conversation with them would be like. (This may happen soon.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
These photographs were taken on two separate days, the cloudier ones in October and the sunnier ones in December. I missed going back here when the snowfall arrived, but I do wish I could have photographed it then.

There’s a bridge over the swampy river that leads to a welcoming bench for people to sit and ponder. To the right and left are private homes with signs requesting respect for their privacy.

Grinfinn enjoyed the tall grass as he explored the area and sniffed all the smells. I didn’t take him off leash, since there are coyotes in the area I wanted to have him close by my side. (Not that he walks fast enough that I couldn’t quickly pick him up.)

If you want to learn more about Finn Slough, you can read about it here.

And for the chosen theme song for the post, I thought this fit well.

2017 in Review

2017 had a pretty rough start for me, but it finished extremely strong. When I look back on the year I feel pretty happy about the accomplishments I have made. I’m almost done my lib tech course, I began learning the ukulele, adopted a dog, took some road trips, wrote a new book, started submitting my work to publishers, and I met a really amazing woman.

Here’s a list of my top 12 events. Some have links to longer blog posts or to other sites of interest.

  1. Manresa Castle in Port Townsend.

That time I spent a night in a haunted hotel, and woke up the next day with the entire town dressed in steampunk costumes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

2. Grinfinn the Pekingese.

That time I met a dog, and he chose me to be his caretaker.

20170616_132356

3. Friday Harbor, WA

That time I took a ferry to a town in the San Juan Islands, and met a couple at a cafe who turned out to be a good friend’s uncle and aunt.

48

4. Leavenworth, WA

That time I went camping in a town that does Christmas all year long.

20170620_175725

5. The Steampunk Festival in Belligham, WA

That time I went to a steampunk festival and wished that I was in a costume.

20170722_122748

6. Coupeville, WA

That time I discovered the beauty of just sitting by the ocean with a cup of coffee, a dog at my feet, and a notebook on my lap.

20170728_140148

7. Arlington, WA

I wound up here by accident after taking a wrong turn. Then, after a second wrong turn, wound up finding the BEST homemade ice cream place I’ve ever discovered.

20170825_13321520170825_133154

8. First book signing since Flying Feet!

That time Denise Jaden and Eileen Cook asked me to be a part of their summer signing.

YASummer

9. Digital Services Tech at Richmond Public Library.

That time a part of my job was to create a digitization station for digitizing VHS, LPs, and cassettes. (It now does SO MUCH MORE!)

20170721_134917

10. Chosen to be a part of the literacy quilt.

The quilt was 50 feet from my station, and it still took me weeks and weeks to notice I was on it. In fact, it was a patron who asked, “Are you the James McCann that’s on the literacy quilt?” And then when the quilt travelled to another library, I got an email from a coworker who realized I was the author of one of her favourite books as a teen.

20170720_130742

20170720_130752

11. Family came to visit.

My sister and mom came in July, and my nephew came in September. We took many road trips together and had an absolute blast.

DSC05470
My sister, Grinfinn, and I in Horseshoe Bay on our way to Whistler.

Hell’s Gate was one of the many trips my nephew and I took.

20170906_151726
My nephew, Justin, in Hell’s Gate, BC

12. Had a Nice Surprise

If you follow my Instagram, you may have noticed I’ve been spending a lot of time with a special someone, Jessica. Here we are writing at the Penny, a really cool cafe in Mission. You can read Jessica’s work on Wattpad.

JessieJames

 

And, I started learning the ukulele (as in actual lessons). I (almost always) end my blog posts with a song that fits the moment–so, here’s me playing the ukulele on week four.